ITECS: The Next-Generation Internet

The only constant is change.

Someone said that there can’t be a Web 2.0 because there was never a Web 1.0.  In like fashion, do you remember when George W. Bush said “Internets” and everyone laughed?  It turns out, however, that he was right:  there are, indeed, Internets (i.e., plural as in more than one). 1

My personal dissatisfaction with the term Internet

I think that the term “Internet” is a very poor way to describe the service that we use when we go online and what we actually do when we’re in virtual space.  That’s because when we go online, we:  upload, download, chat, read, write, talk, watch movies, listen to songs and learn.  In fact, we perform what can be called the essence of communication.

The next-generation Internet

If the only constant is change then it stands to reason that the Internet, like everything else, is also subject to evolution.  If it is subject to evolution then we needn’t split hairs about what we call it.  It’s no longer a matter of appellation, but of functionality.  It’s not what we call the thing (or, service), but what the thing (or, service) does for us that counts.

There’s much in a name

Having said that, names are, nevertheless, important.  Imagine for a moment that the Internet were called ITECS.  ITECS stands for Interactive Total Expression Communication Sphere.  Interactive because the Internet implies movement and interactivity; Total because of the all-encompassing scope of material available online; Expression because, in toto, everything on the Internet is an expression of some kind; Communication because what we express is non-static and, via interactivity, reaches intended recipients; and Sphere because I think this sounds so much better than Internet or, Information Super Highway which implies a linear trajectory as opposed to something more holistic like ITECS.

ITECS

Today, we have Internet1 (See, footnote 1):  a hodge-podge of information that is slow to access and may or may not be accurate.  (See, Static and Closed versus Interactive and Open Internet Web pages, lubarascheff.com) with a division of functions (See, Get to the Point: Effective Communication in the Digital Age, lubarascheff.com).

But what will next-generation ITECS be like?

Falling into the realm of speculation

Let’s do a free fall into the realm of speculation.  Let’s imagine a bit and make some smart guesses.  Unlike Internet1 (and more like Internet2), ITECS will be fast; much faster than what we’re using today (whether Internet1 or Internet2).  It will be entirely wireless and perhaps somehow connected to our bodies (See, Do As the Toltecs, lubarascheff.com, where I discuss screen incorporation) and resolution will be higher than anything extant.  ITECS will be transparent.  The case can be argued that in a speedy and transparent ITECS, users will be able to almost instantly do the following:  obtain information they seek; express themselves; and share information they deem valuable with a close group of friends or the world.  With speed, ease of access and a more evolved mindset that will necessarily accompany a more evolved ITECS, there will be less of a perceived need to dissimulate and/or deliberately upload incorrect information onto ITECS.  (See, “Internet inaccuracies” in Static and Closed versus Interactive and Open Internet Web pages, lubarascheff.com).  Users themselves will, together, act as a kind of counterbalancing “correction mechanism” if this happens.

In the same way that when we think it, our brains send signals to our fingers and toes that cause them to move, ITECS will enable us to, when we wish, holistically “merge” with its worldwide community of online users.  It will be an open, transparent, fast, ultra-high resolution, self-regulating sphere of total, interactive, information exchange.  ITECS will meet the needs of all users without being detrimental to people or the planet.

Evolution and credibility

Why should we wait for information?  If Internet2 “moves data 100 to 1,000 times faster than the old-fashioned Internet [i.e., Internet1],” 2, ITECS will move data at nearly the speed of thought.  I say nearly because, even though hyperly minimzed, as futurist Dr. Kaku posits (See, The Zero-Sum Game, lubarascheff.com), technical components (i.e., microchips) will still exist.  ITECS will, therefore, be almost instant.  Frustration gone.  Almost instant access to what you need most at the moment you need it.  Doesn’t this sound great?

When will this happen?

ITECS (or, something similar only called by a different name) will arrive sooner than we think.  This is because it will come into existence based on needs defined by our evolving communication requirements.  Our collective, evolving needs will compel innovators to create ITECS.

Image

Orb: Recursive

Author: “Exper” Giovanni Rubaltelli, Abstract Design, (c) 2007 G.R. “Exper”–exper.3drecursion.com

References

1 Russo, Alexander. Slate. Internet2: It’s better, it’s faster. You can’t use it. Posted on Tuesday, June 7, 2005.  Accessed on Saturday, August 10, 2013.  http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/webhead/2005/06/internet2.html. And, Urban Dictionary, Definition of “Internets.”  Accessed on Saturday, August 10, 2013.  http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=internets&r=related.

2 Russo, Alexander. Slate. Internet2: It’s better, it’s faster. You can’t use it. Posted on Tuesday, June 7, 2005.  Accessed on Saturday, August 10, 2013.  http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/webhead/2005/06/internet2.html.

ITECS: THE NEXT-GENERATION INTERNET Copyright © 2013 Luba Rascheff

Static and Closed versus Interactive and Open Internet Web pages

In the beginning, web pages were static with readers merely passively reading them.  Today, many are interactive with more and more possibilities for users to actively interact with the material they read.  To what degree should Internet users be able to interact with (viz., modify) information presented to them?  What are the benefits of increased openness and interactivity?  What are the risks?  Just how democratic should the Internet be?

Steps toward openness and the democratization of the Internet

There are disagreements regarding the definition and even existence of Web 2.0. 1  If we momentarily overlook this fact, Web 2.0 can be thought of as a kind of interactive, dynamic, non-static, next-generation Internet.  Its philosophy “emphasizes the importance of people’s interactions with the Internet.” 2  Although the concept of everyone contributing to the Web sounds and may even be wonderful, it raises some fundamental questions.

Ward Cuningham, the founder of Wikipedia (the word “Wiki,” pronounced “Witi” is a Hawaiian word which means “fast” or “quick” 3) created an encyclopedia in which users can edit a page or create new ones. 4  “A single page in a wiki website is referred to as a “wiki page,” while the entire collection of pages, which are usually well interconnected by hyperlinks, is the ‘wiki.’ ” 5  As appealing as having a plethora of wikis at our fingertips is, it remains a mixed blessing.  Tim O’Reilly (from O’Reilly Media) said, regarding interactive Internet, that because people can accidentally or intentionally provide incorrect information, there is no guarantee regarding the accuracy of the electronic information at our disposal. 6

Web syndication formats such as Really Simple Syndication (RSS) also contribute to the democratization of the Internet by allowing users to “subscribe to a Web page and receive updates whenever the administrator for that page [makes] any changes.” 7  The process of rendering web content equally discoverable to as many users as possible also includes tags and open source software 8 as well as blogs and permalinks (hypertext links) connected to specific blog entries that allow for heightened information exchange (i.e., blog-to-blog, viral marketing). 9  Podcasting (i.e.,  blog + RSS + video blogs or, vlogs) is yet another way to share information. 10

Internet inaccuracies

Although web democratization leads to increased dissemination and sharing of information and opportunities for new services (e.g., Red Hat Software came into existence to support Linus Torvalds’s open source operating system, Linux 11) we must be wary regarding the accuracy of and accountability for information found online.

Although democratization, openness, inclusiveness, and encouraged interactive co-participation in developing web content are appealing because of the vast amounts of information they provide and the ability to easily access said information, we need to seriously think about accuracy, accountability as well as the retention of individual authorship when applicable.

Unfortunately, there are numerous examples of inaccuracies that riddle the Internet.  Even more troubling is when these inaccuracies pertain to misleading medical advice.  Some kind of guiding compass must be relied upon to “follow up [on such] conflicting information with a solid, unambiguous message that communicates those lessons that [in this cited, educational study] the instructor deems most important.” 12

Regarding a study called Safe Infant Sleep recommendations on the Internet: Let’s Google It, researchers found that parents, instead of following American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations because they often contain hard-to-understand, medical jargon, type key phrases into a search engine and follow the advice given by high-ranking websites. 13  When researchers tested common key phrases, they found that in the top one hundred search results (out of 1,300 websites total) “only 43.5% of these … websites contained recommendations that were in line with the AAP recommendations, while 28.1% contained inaccurate information and 28.4% of the websites were not medically relevant.” 14  In this example, parents obtaining and applying incorrect information from data presented online could have devastating consequences.

Maintaining individuality while permitting specified, collective web interactivity

Whether closed or open, passive or active, web pages on the Internet deliver information to users.

It is important to recognize that an open and interactive Internet is desirable for the benefits it could bring.  At present, however, we must expect that the advantages of openness and heightened interactivity and inter-connectivity are offset by lack of accountability coupled with inaccuracies that pose potential pitfalls.

Perhaps it’s best to recognize that there should be a balance between the two models presented in this article:  niches (e.g., Wikipedia) where wikis are the norm and groups of Internet users collectively create material that has the potential of being inaccurate and lack accountability, with control mechanisms in place to correct such inaccuracies; and niches (e.g., bloggers or individual website creators) where accuracy and accountability can easily be verified and attributed.

References

1  Strickland, Jonathan.  “Democratization of the Web.”  Howstuffworks. How Web 2.0 works.  Accessed on Saturday, August 3, 2013.  http://computer.howstuffworks.com/web-202.htm, 3.

2  Ibid., 3.

3  Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  Wiki.  Accessed on Saturday, August 3, 2013.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki

4  Ibid.

5  Ibid.

6  Strickland, Jonathan.  “Democratization of the Web.”  Howstuffworks. How Web 2.0 works. Accessed on Saturday, August 3, 2013.  http://computer.howstuffworks.com/web-202.htm, 3.

7  Ibid., 4.

8  Ibid., 3.

9  op. cit.

10. Ibid.

11  “What does open source mean?”  Howstuffworks. Accessed on Saturday, August 3, 2013.  http://computer.howstuffworks.com/question435.htm

12  Philip Kortum, PhD, Christine Edwards, BS and Rebecca Richards-Kortum, PhD.  “The Impact of Inaccurate Health Information in a Secondary School Learning Environment.”  Journal of Medical Internet Research. Accessed on Saturday, August 3, 2013.  http://www.jmir.org/2008/2/e17/

13  Rehman, Jalees.  “Accuracy of Medical Information on the Internet.”  Fragments of Truth.  Posted on Thursday, January 17 2013.  Accessed on Saturday, August 3, 2013.  http://fragments-of-truth.blogspot.com/2013/01/accuracy-of-medical-information-on.html

14  Ibid.

 

STATIC AND CLOSED VERSUS INTERACTIVE AND OPEN INTERNET WEB PAGES Copyright © 2013 Luba Rascheff

Permanently Offline

If the title of my article compelled you to read more, it’s probably because its antithesis holds true.1

We are so connected–on every level–that disconnecting both appeals to us yet seems entirely unattainable if not for allowable periods of time (e.g., sleeping).  “Instead of using media simply to receive information and/or entertainment only at certain points of time and for a specific amount of time, many … have developed the habit of being online almost permanently.”2  (my emphasis)

A person may, for example, discretely read the news on their mobile phone while in the company of others saying “Uh, huh” at strategic moments of a conversation they are only in part following.  This person is, in effect, “escaping” from reality by entering the online, virtual world.  If, however, we define reality as the “ultimate online experience” (this idea is similar to what is presented in the movie the Matrix) then, by getting on the Internet, we are going online to go “offline.”

Whether we’re in a train, bus and “even when driving our [own] car,” we don’t stop communicating.3  We may choose not to communicate with the person seated next to us; we may, instead, be communicating with someone on the other side of the globe.

Vorderer and Kohring ask why we are spending so much time online, to the point that it’s almost permanent.4  According to these authors, we do this in order to feel included5 and, I might add, not to miss out on something.  Stopping our permanent access to information and news would make us feel excluded and fear ostracism.6

With the heightened acceleration of modern life, we are also more and more online because “this sort of behavior is suitable to meet the communication requirements of our time.”7

Is it?

As I read the above, I thought, Who defines the communication requirements of our time?  Are they necessarily defined by and attached to the myriad digital devices we use on a daily basis, or is there an alternative?

Although reading the news on one’s smartphone while seated at a cafe (in the company of others or not) poses no immediate threat other than possibly offending someone by not devoting one hundred percent of your attention to them, thousands have literally met death or incurred injury by inattention while trying to negotiate driving or walking while engrossed in their cell phones.8

Where are we placing our attention?

In many ways, where we choose to focus our attention (and what percentage of said attention) appears to dictate where we are.   How much of us is at the cafe, listening to a conversation?  What part of us is learning about the latest natural disaster or reading our e-mails?

There doesn’t seem to be a clear cut answer to these questions.  Vorderer and Kohring say that even after rewarding periods of time offline, “eventually all go online again.”9

If we define going online as getting on the Internet, then perhaps, like any other favorite product we use, moderation is best.

Photographie personnelle, prise par Douz (Tunisie), Auteur: Asram

Photographie personnelle, prise par Douz (Tunisie), Auteur: Asram

 

References

1 Vorderer, Peter and Kohring, Matthias.  Permanently Online:  A Challenge for Media and Communication Research. International Journal of Communication.  Accessed on 30 July 2013.  <http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/1963/848&gt>

2 Ibid., 189.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid., 191.

5 Ibid., 192.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid..

8 “According to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, 2,600 people died in 2004 and 330,000 more were injured while using cell phones just before an accident.” DoItYourselfStaff. Driving Safety Tips-Statistics on Deaths By Cell Phones. Accessed on 31 July 2013.  <http://www.doityourself.com/stry/driving-safety-tips-statistics-on-deaths-by-cell-phones#.UfpUx21uqSo>

9 Opcit., 190.

Interactive, Touch Reading

One of the great advantages to publishing digital media, in this case books, is the reading experience.  Unlike traditional, print books, readers are presented with a dynamic platform that can be controlled.

A “click” can take us, for example, from chapter one to forty-seven in an instant whereas in traditional books, we’d have to turn many pages to get there and would need a bookmark to remember where we were.

In electronic publications, readers are given a kind of control they previously did not have.  They are able to interact with the e-publication in a non-static manner.  In a way, the book almost becomes “alive” in their hands.  No longer a series of pages that one must manually turn in order to advance in the story, the book is transformed into one “fluid image of words” whose appearance can instantly change.

The screen

Unlike a print book that we hold in our hands and whose pages we must turn to delve deeper into the story, the e-book is presented on a screen.  It could be found on any one of a series of mobile or stationary devices (e.g., Amazon’s Kindle), yet will needs be a screen.  This means that whereas in print media we come into direct contact with the book in our hands, in the digital version, we are separated by a screen.  The screen, in a way, is therefore both the facilitator of our reading experience as well as its moderator.  It is the medium through or by which we reach our chosen medium (i.e., e-book).

That which prevents us from “touching,” so to speak, the object of our curiosity in the same breath enables us to see it in an unconventional and enhanced manner.  A combination of the screen and touch pad or mouse allows us to read the end of the story before we’ve read the beginning.  Alternatively, we can also instantly hop to the middle and go back to the beginning or end.  The point is that we no longer have to wait to get the information we want.  We can have it effortlessly now.  Past, present and future are seemingly melded into one.

In California, a group of school children were taken to see some older model telephones on display.  One of them finally said, “Oh, I get it!  You have to stick your finger in the hole and turn.”  He was, of course, referring to the plastic, rotating dial on the front of rotary-dial telephones that needed to be turned in order to compose a number.

Although we may read this and chuckle, most of us would never dream of giving up our touch pads or buttons (stationary or mobile), not to speak of our Skype connection.

A certain order

There is a certain order in the evolution of things including things technological.  There is a certain adaptation, too, a certain willingness to evolve along with it that is required on our part.  If we want the effortless ease of the seamless and interactive reading experience, we must adapt to the new model.

400px-Rotarydial

By Dhscommtech at English Wikipedia

Do as the Toltecs

The Toltecs say that we should never assume anything.  This is possibly the most precious advice ever.

When we communicate with people, it’s very tempting to fall into old paradigms and fixed ways of seeing the world.  This is what assumption is.

It’s easier for us to reference an event into a frame we’re familiar with rather than allowing for the possibility of something completely unexpected.

Expect the unexpected

With ever-increasing advances in technology (See, “The Zero-Sum Game” by Luba Rascheff), the external means that we use to express ourselves will become more and more adapted to the electro-chemical bundles that represent our bodies.  For example, cutting edge research involves understanding how fat is the quickest way to move data.  Fat, who would have thought?  Don’t assume anything, say the Toltecs.

If, as Michio Kaku says, in the future, we will be able to obtain information at the blink of an eye (or, by blinking our eye since the ubiquitous screen will now be attached to a contact lens) (See, “The Zero-Sum Game”), this necessarily implies that there will be a more intimate connection between our bodies (mind = body + thought) and the artificial elements (machine = chip + circuits) that facilitate the information exchange process.

Tell me what you know

In the future, our ability to instantaneously obtain any information we need will reduce our tendency to make assumptions.

It will break down our old frameworks of thinking and introduce new ones.

Future thought

The electro-chemical bundles in which we move around–our bodies–will become instruments with which we communicate holistically with our environment.  This approach will be radically different from traditional methods of communication.  It will be streamlined, instantaneous, coordinated and highly efficient.

To get to this point, though, we must start assuming less and engaging more with our quickly changing environment.  We must do as the Toltecs.

DO AS THE TOLTECS Copyright © 2013  Luba Rascheff

Toltec-style Vessel

Toltec-style Vessel (Photo credit: Madman2001)

The Zero-Sum Game

In his featured video (See, “Dark Energy:  The Energy of Nothing,” bigthink.com/blogs/dr-kakus-universe, accessed on 21 July 2013), Dr. Michio Kaku, Theoretical Physicist, CUNY, explains that the sum of positive energy and dark matter in the universe equals…zero.

He says that the space between objects in the universe–essentially empty space or, nothing–balances out exactly with positive energy (as depicted in the standard model of the universe by atoms, neutrons and quarks).

If we accept this to be true, it means, according to Dr. Kaku, that we can create a universe out of nothing.

Point zero in communication

If Dr. Kaku is correct then, whatever communications we issue (analog or digital) use a combination of what we express and, critically, what we do not.  It’s what we say, and what we don’t that, together, make our point, our ‘micro universe.’

A reassuring point

Dr. Kaku says that although we know it exists, we don’t have a clue as to what dark matter really is.  What we do know, however, is that it comprises 23% of the universe and is a major influencer.  Dark energy (“the energy of nothing, the energy of the vacuum”) comprises 73% of the universe.

In the same way that dark matter (moved by gravitational forces) is invisible, what isn’t seen in our communications influences them nonetheless.

Less is more

If less is more then, says Dr. Kaku, by 2020 computers will have disappeared with chips becoming ubiquitous (“Futurist Michio Kaku:  Computers will disappear by 2020.” Psiho. #28, year XXIV, 19 July 2013, p. 12).  Since computers are doubling in power every eighteen months, by 2020 the computer won’t exist in the form we are so familiar with.  (Ibid.)  The Internet in its present form, according to Dr. Kaku, will also disappear with the net being simultaneously “everywhere and nowhere.”  (Ibid.)

People will be like ambulatory computers and, with the blink of an eye, will be able to obtain any kind of information needed.  (Ibid.)

Gain from reduction

As computers become smaller and smaller, functionality becomes greater and greater.  Reaching zero, therefore, means obtaining everything.  This is the zero-sum game.

THE ZERO-SUM GAME Copyright © 2013  Luba Rascheff

Mass map of Abell 1689.

Mass map of Abell 1689. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SEO for Serif WebPlus X5

SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

The fact that you have a website is great.  In and of itself, though, this is not enough to ensure that your site is properly advertised, optimized and that it receives a steady, targeted stream of visitors.

Great keyword research

The first step in SEO is great keyword research.  You don’t need anything fancy; Google’s Keyword Tool (or, AdWords Keyword Tool) is sufficient.  If you already have a Google AdWords account, login.  Otherwise, go to www.googlekeywordtool.com and verify that you’re human by typing the text presented in the box.

The first step is to minimize the ‘Saved ideas’ on the left.  For a more precise search, deselect ‘Broad’ and select ‘Exact.’  We’ll start with ‘Broad’ and move to ‘Exact’ in this example.

If your website is about digital media, start by typing in ‘digital media’ (without quotes) in the box labeled ‘Word or phrase.’  Now click ‘Search.’  Scrolling down, you’ll see that the results of your search are depicted in several columns called:  ‘Keyword Ideas,’ ‘ Competition,’ ‘Global Monthly Searches’ and ‘Local Monthly Searches.’

The majority of the results in my example are listed as ‘Low’ competition.  This is favorable  because I know that if I use any of the keywords or phrases associated with ‘Low,’ I have a reasonable chance of elevating my website’s ranking (i.e., in Google’s search results) since I won’t be up against strong competition for the same spot.  For example, the phrase ‘digital signage software’ has a ‘High’ competition.  Using this phrase would pit me against strong competitors (who, most likely, bid high for ads), so I’ll avoid it.

I’m highly interested in ‘Global Monthly Searches.’  These numbers tell me how many times per month people will type in a particular keyword or phrase when doing a Google search.  A cursory scan of the results reveals that people type in the phrase ‘what is internet’ 338 million times per month; ‘what is management’ and ‘what is java’ result in over 83 million global searches per month (gsm); and a search for ‘digital’ produces nearly 56 million gsm.

In my example, I’d like to narrow my search to ‘digital media’ and ‘social media.’  An ‘Exact’ search results in the keyword phrase ‘social media’ showing low competition and 201,000 gsm.  This means that I can safely use this phrase to optimize my site.

Now try typing ‘social media’ into the ‘Word or phrase’ box.  Click ‘Search.’  This results in 201,000 gsm with low competition.

It is in this experimental manner  that you will find the best keywords or phrases (sometimes misspelled) to optimize your site.

Great quality content

If you’re going to optimize your digital media website focusing on social media, you want to make sure that you deliver what’s been promised!  Once you drive traffic to your site, visitors have the right to expect top-notch, quality content about digital media and social media in particular.  This includes inserting keywords (often bolded and italicized) within the body of your website’s pages’ text.

Optimize your pages in WebPlus X5

Once you’ve experimented with the Google Keyword/AdWords Tool, it’s time to optimize your website’s pages.

Open your website.  In ‘File,’ select ‘Site Properties.’  In the pop-up box, select ‘Search.’  In the box entitled ‘Enter the description to be displayed when a search engine finds a page on your web’ type in, for example:  ‘E-books about digital media with an emphasis on social media’ (without the quotes).  Note that the first ten words are most important which is why I excluded the preliminary words ‘This website is about….’

In the box titled ‘Enter a list of words for search engines to use to find pages on your Web site…’ insert the series of keywords or phrases you researched with Google’s Keyword/AdWords Tool.  I selected ‘en-us’ for the language code on my website.

Don’t click ‘OK.’  Instead, select ‘Search engine.’  For my website, I selected all available categories setting my page change frequency indicator to ‘Monthly’ with a page priority of ‘0.5’.  I named my search engine sitemap file ‘sitemap.xml’  making sure to upload the special file provided by Google when I registered my website using their Webmaster Tools in my public/html folder.

Don’t click ‘OK’ yet.  Select ‘Analytics.’  Check the box for ‘Enable web analytics.’  In ‘Paste from Clipboard,’ insert the text (i.e., tracking code) that you received when registering your website with Google Analytics.  If you aren’t ready now, you can do this later.

Now select ‘Summary.’  Type your name (or pseudonym) in the ‘Author’ field.  Repeat (or type in a variation on the theme) the keywords or phrases you used when completing ‘Search’ above for ‘Comments’ and ‘Subject.’  Finally, click ‘OK.’

You’ll need to optimize each page.  So, for every page, with the page selected, right-mouse click to select ‘Page Properties’ and, in ‘Navigation’ choose a relevant page name, title and file name making sure to fill in a page-specific description.  For ‘Search’ and ‘Search Engine’ use the information I provide earlier in the article.  Under ‘Indexing,’ do not select ‘Override site search engine settings’ and observe that this section appears dimmed.  That’s because you expressed your preferences in ‘Site Properties’ globally, for the whole site.

Don’t forget to save and publish your newly optimized website to the Internet!

Although I haven’t discussed off-site optimization, schema.org and rich snippets, I hope this brief article on how to do SEO for a WebPlus X5 website helps you.

How to Thrive in the Age of Globalization

Some people like globalization and some don’t.  The fact of the matter, though, is that globalization is.

How can we thrive in globalization?

  1. Cut the fear     The first thing you must do is get rid of fear.  Although so much has changed and so much more will, keep the faith about why people make the decisions they do.
  2. Put all your options on the table     Unhesitatingly put all your options on the table.  Don’t let someone say, What?!  You’re planning to move where?
  3. Believe in interconnectedness     No matter where we’re from or what our life experiences are, we are all interconnected on some level.
  4. Openness breeds opportunities     When we open up to the possibilities afforded by globalization–greater ease of movement, instant digital communication, more porous borders (national and personal)–we open up to opportunities we never dreamed could be possible.
  5. Hold onto your identity     In spite of point 4, it’s vital that we hold onto our personal identities:  the core of what makes us special.
  6. Switch perspectives     Increasing exposure to multiculturalism and multiethnicity makes it mandatory for us to look at things from the perspective of others.  This will help us better understand ourselves and our world.
  7. Factor in ‘invisible strings’     When I studied economics at the University of Illinois, I remember my professor saying that there were certain statistical outcomes that defied explanation if not for ‘invisible strings.’
  8. The world is at your feet     Given the possibilities and the permutations afforded by globalization, the world is at your feet.  Remember this always.
  9. The possibilities are endless     Your success in a globalized world is only limited by the extent of your imagination.
  10. Make it happen     Thriving in the age of globalization means fearlessly taking advantage of the opportunities provided on every level.

Electronic Publishing in the Digital Age

When I first started writing, I pursued traditional methodologies for getting published.  Grosso modo, these are:  Write a quality book that is between eighty and one hundred thousand words long to satisfy market requirements, edit it, have friends read it, religiously go through Writer’s Market looking for select publishers, write a query letter and wait between one and three months for a reply.  However, as an author once said, Why should I wait for the acceptance of my book when the book could already be published with me on a beach drinking tequila?  This leads to several questions:  Is it reasonable to expect that writers wait between one and three months for a response?  Why have publishers framed this expectation and do they have the right to monopolize writers’ time?  After all, time is a precious commodity of which we appear to have less and less.

The definition of publishing has changed

My experience with Amazon and Facebook(R) has shown me that the definition of publishing has changed.  Writers don’t have to wait between one and three months or more to determine the value of their writings.  Publication can happen sooner.

What is publication?

According to the Penguin Dictionary (Robert Allen, consultant ed.), publication is ‘the act or process of publishing’ and to publish is to ‘produce (a book…) or release (it) for sale or distribution to the public.’

With the advent of social media and self-publishing methodologies such as Amazon, the very meaning of what publication is and who controls the distribution process have forever changed.

Why is it advantageous to publish electronic books as opposed to print books?

Control

The first advantage is that writers can take control of the process.  On the surface, this may appear marvelous.  You may think, I can say whatever I want, click ‘post’ and the world will embrace me.  Not so fast pussycat.  Just because we have the means to bypass traditional book publishers and market our personal brand doesn’t mean that we can produce poor writing and win.  In fact, the freedom afforded by the likes of Facebook(R) and Amazon should make us doubly careful about what we say and how we say it.  Controlling the distribution process doesn’t equate with producing quality products.  This is because whether we produce electronic or print titles, the old adage, ‘content is king,’ still applies.  And I would add quality content.

Practicality

‘There are undoubtable benefits to being able to take entire libraries with you when travelling [including] the ability to access information at any time, and search that information quickly….(Bailey, Sarah. ‘Digital Rights Management in Publishing.’ reallybluebooks.com/downloads/Digital-Rights-Management-Essay.pdf, 20 June, 2011, p. 6)  I can’t take my physical library of books with me when traveling; but I can have access to all of my e-books at any time and in any place.

Durability

Unlike traditional, print books, e-books cannot degrade.  Their digital as opposed to analog composition is virtually everlasting.

Instant access

Many people own electronic reading tablets such as Kindle.  For them, ordering an e-book online gives them virtually instant access to the product.  Amazon, for example, offers free, wireless delivery in about two minutes.  This is a far cry from getting in your car, driving to the bookstore, locating the book, purchasing it, driving home and starting to read it.  Even if you order a print book online, you’ll have to wait several days to a week for delivery, depending.

Reduced cost

Offering my readers electronic versions of my books enables them to get the same value (if not higher) at a reduced cost.  For example, one of my books is 385 pages long with 84 color illustrations.  It sells for $19.19 in print (black & white) versus $0.99 on Amazon (color).  This means that should readers desire to hold a print version of my book in their hands, they’ll have to pay roughly twenty times more without getting the full effect since my illustrations won’t be in color!

With the advent of cloud computing, big data and novel ideas about sharing and storing data, we are living the ‘communication revolution.’  In order to maximize our potential–publishing our works sooner than what is traditionally accepted, developing and marketing our personal brand without necessarily being pressured by publishers, and offering our quality products at an affordable price and in a durable manner–today’s writers should seriously consider publishing their titles electronically.

ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING IN THE DIGITAL AGE Copyright © 2013 Luba Rascheff

Get to the Point: Effective Communication in the Digital Age

In spite of the fact that we literally have a plethora of modern, digital media at our fingertips designed for communicating with one another, we seem to have less and less time in which to do so.  If feels like we’re being ‘crunched,’ ‘crushed,’ or ‘pressed’ for time.  The result of this time ‘pressure’ (real or imagined) is that our communications are moving more and more toward being:  brief, direct, reduced and, not to use the word blunt, devoid of any nuances let alone flourishes.

This is not necessarily bad.  We have tight schedules, tasks to complete and messages to impart.

One of the secrets to my success on the social media site, Facebook (R), is brevity.  Strangely enough, the less I say, the more popular I become.  Although this may appear paradoxical, it is not.

Social media adherents (i.e., people) are pressed for time and want nothing more than for me to stop wasting their time and get to the point.

A platform to meet the times we live in

Although, for proprietary and corporate reasons, we must post, tweet, link and e-mail via separate accounts, I believe that what we’re secretly yearning for is one account.

If we have less and less time to share, then wouldn’t it make much more sense to, instead of having to log into, let’s say, four accounts daily, to merely log into one?  One account.  One password.

Unishare:  The account of the future

Imagine for a moment a dashboard that has four simple words:  POST, TWEET, LINK and E-MAIL.  Although each function is different, each is nevertheless a vital part of our modern lives.  To separate these functions would be like separating legs and arms from our bodies.  Absurd!  We know full well that we need all the parts to work together as one body.  This is the true meaning of optimization.

If I need to publish a brief, press-like announcement, I’ll click on the TWEET function.  If I want to be more casual and perhaps share a digital image, I’ll POST.  When it comes to a more formal, professional communication, I’ll LINK.  Last, but not least, I’ll use the E-MAIL function ‘as usual’ with the exception that Unishare will provide a much more sophisticated way of organizing and prioritizing my mail than exists today.

In spite of the legal, proprietary and corporate obstacles involved in creating such a ‘dream,’ time-saving, cost effective communication platform, I believe that we are inexorably moving in precisely this direction because…brevity is not bad–in the written word as well as in movements.

Let us, therefore, be brief and quickly and easily get to the point.

GET TO THE POINT: EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION IN THE DIGITAL AGE Copyright © 2013 Luba Rascheff